A priest in west London has asked his parishioners to pray the rosary for the re-routing of a “cycle superhighway” expected to pass in front of his church.
Fr Michael Dunne of Our Lady of Grace and St Edward, Chiswick, said the proposed cycle path, called CS9, would do the parish “more harm” than “the Luftwaffe managed with its wartime bombs”.
He said the path would take away two thirds of the public space outside the church, thereby “removing our capacity for a bridal procession, funeral procession and every other public expression of our Christian identity”.
In a blogpost Fr Dunne argued that the “small public space we have needed outside the church to live our community identity for the last 165 years … should not simply be snatched away from us.”
One parishioner, he said, wrote to him saying: “It grieves me to imagine that when my mother died we would have to dodge cyclists to take her coffin from the hearse into the church. Or when I got married and got out of my car in my wedding dress and had to be careful of cyclists – not to mention gathering outside after Mass and have bikes whizzing past.”
Fr Dunne recalled the funeral of a 98-year-old parishioner who had got married at the church just after it had been bombed – if she had lived to 100, he said, she faced “not being carried with any right of way into church – we’d have been dodging cyclists”.
A church notice said: “There is much to pray about for the world and the 10.30am daily public recitation of the rosary in church will also be praying for success in turning the plans for CS9 away from the High Road and the church.”
The cycle superhighway, proposed by Transport for London, would be the first in west London. The consultation closes on October 31.